Overlooked greatness from trumpeter Blue
Mitchell – two 70s albums back to back! African Violet is sweet electric funk from Blue
– recorded in a warm, largely arranged style that's reminiscent of the best Freddie Hubbard fusion work from the 70s – but which has an even tighter sound overall! The groove is great – kind of a Kudu Records vibe, and Blue
's actually quite good in this format – stepping off with a bit more confidence than on his electric sides from Mainstream, and getting the benefit of some great tenor sax work from Harold Land on a few numbers! Mitchell's always one of those players who actually seems to stretch out more in a set where he's not the leader of a small combo – and his solos here are surprisingly strong, and filled with soul – as are those of Land and tenorist Herman Riley. Titles include "Sand Castles", "Ojos De Rojo", "Mississippi Jump", "As", "Square Business", and "Forget". Summer Soft is a later set from Blue
Mitchell – but a great one too, and done in a fully-arranged soul fusion style that seems to bring out the best in his playing! The album's got a smoother sound than some of Blue
's work for Blue Note
or Mainstream – but the groove comes out surprisingly well, without any cliches or cheesiness – and Blue
himself turns in some wonderful solo work for the record, blowing in an open-ended mode that's similar to Donald Byrd's style of the time. Other players include Bobby Lyle on keyboards, Cedar Walton on piano, Eddie Harris and Harold Land on tenor, and Paulinho Da Costa on percussion – and arrangements for the set were handled by Phil Wright and Cedar Walton, the latter of whom brings in some of the tight funky feel of his own late 70s fusion sets for Columbia. Titles include "A Day At The Mint", "Summer Soft", "Try Not To Forget", "Love Has Made Me A Dreamer", "Evergreen", and "Funkthesizer".